Under the Oak Tree - Chapter 171
Translator – LF
Proofreader – Nymeria
It took Max five attempts to finally be able to repel the thin wooden branch. However, it was still not up to the mark for actual use, so after a long and bitter practice, they decided to explore another method of defensive magic. Max, who had been struggling for days memorizing formulas and theories, had her shoulders sag in disappointment, but Ruth was adamant. He did not want to cling to an incompatible method. He didn’t bother for a break and immediately jumped to another lecture, drawing a new magic formula on the ground.
“There are two types of defensive spells when it comes to the universe of magic. The first one is an abstract shield and the other one is a physical barrier. Since your shield is practically useless, we have no choice but to learn the other type.”
“Then… Do I need to learn a new formula? It… took me a whole week just to memorize the last one…”
“The basic formula is almost identical, so it shouldn’t take you long to learn it. Also, this barrier type requires only a quarter of mana compared to the last one.”
Max narrowed her eyes and glared at him. “T-then why… didn’t you teach me this type of shield in the first place?”
“The magic formula used for abstract shields is less complicated. Unlike a shield that it’s formed with the use of pure mana, a physical barrier transforms tangible elements around you to create a shield. Since it involves the manipulation of matter, it involves complex calculations and formulations more difficult than abstract shields.”
Ruth explained as he continued to write down formulas on the ground using a wooden stick. Max looked at the overly complicated drawings and her face began to contort in horror.
“What… What if I practice building the abstract shield more? I… I can get better with time.”
“That’s possible, if the lady will be able to build up her mana pool. But that will take at least a year to happen. The lady needs to learn magic that you can use anytime now. It would be better for you to learn as much magic as possible before I go.”
Max looked at Ruth, pulling her eyes away from the complex shapes that made her dizzy when she stared at them.
“Did you… perhaps… receive a royal order to l-leave for the e-expedition?”
“It won’t be long now. I received a message from Livadon yesterday, saying that the situation is getting more serious. The high priests of Osyria are already discussing countermeasures.”
If Osyria was involved, then the obvious conclusion would be to gather reinforcements from each of the seven countries. Max looked anxiously at Ruth.
“How… how long does it take… to get to Livadon?”
“About a month. It would take two weeks on horseback, with no breaks, to reach the border northwest of here. From there, you would have to travel for another ten days by boat. If there are monsters encountered on the way, it will take longer.”
Max’s mood clouded and she sighed just imagining the terrible journey.
“It… it must be a tough journey…”
“It really is. Traversing the Lexos Mountains was more than enough for a lifetime of suffering, but now another damn expedition had to happen! To be honest, I want to be stuck in Anatol for at least ten years.”
Ruth’s shoulder slumped as he lamented. Max was a little worried about the man who couldn’t even be bothered to travel to his room to sleep, and yet would be forced to go on such a long journey. Every corner of the world had monsters lurking and the journey to Livadon would certainly not go smoothly.
“Will it r-really…be alright to take just a few knights…for the expedition…?”
“We can’t take all the knights and leave Anatol unprotected to save Livadon, can we?” Ruth responded sarcastically and quickly finished the formula. “Besides, we are not the only ones responding to Livadon’s call. As we move northwest, knights sent by other countries will join us.”
“Knights… from other countries…?”
“Lord Calypse isn’t the King’s only vassal. On behalf of the King’s command, each Lord shall send his own knights and a large-scale army will be formed. This is the common procedure when reinforcements are sent to allied countries.”
“I… I see…”
“Troops will be dispatched from Whedon, Balto, and Osyria, so no matter how many monsters unite, we can settle the matters by late fall this year.” Seeing his confidence, Max was able to relax a bit. “When this is all over… I will be able to return to Anatol not later than the start of winter.”
“I sincerely hope that will be the case.”
Finally finishing the magic formula, Ruth dusted his palms and straightened his back.
“In the meantime, the lady will have to take over my role somehow.”
“O-of course… I’ll do my best.”
Her shoulders hunched with the burden Ruth had placed on her.
“But… there may be situations when it will be difficult for me to handle on my own… before Ruth leaves, shouldn’t we get at least… another healer?”
“If I could, I would have already.” Ruth sighed and crossed his arms on his chest. “All the magicians are gathering in Livadon because of the chaos the monsters are inflicting. Therefore, the pay for wizards almost doubled, so every wizard is determined to go there. Moreover, the demand for wizards is steep, so no one will be willing to settle in Anatol unless the compensation is beyond generous.”
Max’s face reflected pure anxiety, the world was more chaotic than she thought. Ruth gave her a serious look.
“That’s why we have to work on improving your magic skills as much as possible before I leave. That way, I can have a little peace of mind when I depart.”
“I-I’ll try.” Max replied helplessly as she gazed at the complicated magic formula that spanned out like a spider’s web.
Patting her shoulders to cheer her up, Ruth began to explain step by step the principles behind the magic.
Just as Ruth predicted, the royal family’s order for reinforcements arrived ten days later. Riftan was the one who received the imperial decree from the royal messenger. He quickly flipped through the contents and immediately summoned the knights to discuss it. Max nervously paced in the room, anxiously awaiting Riftan’s return: she needed to know what was the final decision in their response to the order.
He made it clear that he had no intention of leaving Anatol unattended and would order another knight in his place, but depending on what was written in the royal order there was a possibility for him to change his mind. King Ruben could have made it impossible for him to refuse the order.
She clasped her hands, praying. The thought of him leaving her for so long gnawed at her and seemed to burn her nerves. It felt like an eternity before the bedroom door finally opened. Max turned her head to the sound of the door and Riftan entered, looking exhausted. She immediately went to him like a blow of wind.
“What-what… was the decision? What was written in the decree? You-you don’t plan to leave Anatol, do you?”
“Hey, take it easy.”
He grabbed her by the houlders, surprise evident on his face at her sudden outburst, but she grabbed his forearms and advanced nervously.
“Are you leaving for Livadon?”
“I told you I don’t plan on doing that.”
A faint smile danced on his lips. Riftan gently removed Max’s grip, released the sword tied to his waist and placed it against the bedside. She ran after him and continued hurling questions in his direction.
“Then…what was decided on w-who will go in your place?”
“Uslin Rikaido will lead the expedition.”
Riftan collapsed into a chair and massaged his stiff neck.
“Nirta and Rikaido were barking at each other for the opportunity so much that the knights grew tired. I had to listen to them scream for three hours. My ears are paralyzed from their noise.”
Max gave him a sympathetic look as she remembered how those two knights acted like each other’s mortal enemies. If they had been fighting, then their screams would have been thunderous.
“It looks like…Sir R-Rikaido won this time…”
“Nirta was at a disadvantage from the beginning. Allied knights from around the world are merging. A commander with a mercenary background will invite nothing but backlash. Rikaido on the other hand is from a prominent family, it would be most favorable for him to stand as the representative.” There was a hint of mockery in Riftan’s tone at the words ‘prominent family’, but he just clicked his tongue lightly and continued. “Nirta’s arguments were strong, but I finally managed to convince him that nothing good comes from internal conflicts. In the end he’s a rational person, it doesn’t fit his bear-like physique.”
Max nodded as he remembered how meek Hebaron always seemed. “Who else is l-leaving?”
“Elliot Caron and Lombardo will be assisting Rikaido. There will be ten other knights, twenty apprentice knights, thirty more men on horseback, and a wizard… It has been decided that a total of sixty-four men will depart for Livadon.”
“I… is there anything I can do to help for the p-preparations?”
Riftan frowned slightly at her suggestion. “You don’t have to worry about anything. They are going to pack their own luggage and they are all used to these kinds of tasks.”
“Still… if there is anything they n-need, I’ll have it prepared. They are going on a long journey… There must be s-something I can do to help. “
“Then, tell the servants to prepare an extravagant dinner.” He smiled bitterly.
“The preparations for the expedition will be finished by tomorrow. They are going to leave at dawn the next day, so tomorrow night is the only time for a send-off dinner.”
Max evaluated his expression carefully and acknowledged that he was reluctant to part with his men. She understood him. The bond between them was forged through blood and fire, no one could happily send his knights, who have followed him loyally through life and death, to war. She nodded vigorously, determined to inform the chef to use the best ingredients, expensive spices and the highest quality aged wine for dinner tomorrow.
“I’ll tell them… to prepare only the best and most delicious dishes…”
With a slight smile, he removed his thick leather boots and untied his tunic-tight waistband. Max took his boots and carefully placed them against the wall and ordered Rudis to prepare a bath.
Meanwhile, Riftan stood in front of the open window and allowed the refreshing night breeze to cool his body. He gazed at his land, covered in the night’s darkness. Max opened the trunk and pulled out a new set of nightwear and paused to look at Riftan’s figure.
His wide back seemed stiffer than usual, and there was a darkness to his sharp features. Her heart sank painfully knowing he was tired and annoyed by all the burdens piling up on his shoulders. Duty to the king, duty as lord, duty as commander of the knights… so many responsibilities. Even a man made of steel would be beaten at that point.
Max hesitated, but then slowly approached him and wrapped her arms around his waist. Riftan turned slightly and looked at her with a soft smile.
“What is this? Are you trying to seduce me again?”
“It’s j-just… you look sad and tired…”
Her face turned red as she pretended to brush dust off his tunic. A light laugh escaped Riftan’s lips. He wrapped her tightly around his strong arms and planted a kiss on her head.
“You’re growing more appealing with each passing day. It turns me on.”
Max buried her head against his broad chest, feeling relieved that the somber atmosphere clouding him had disappeared. She felt sorry for the knights but was overwhelmed by the joy of knowing that Riftan would not be leaving for such a dangerous place.
Note – Nymeria: HOW CUTEEEE omg such a nice couple they’ve become! My heart is satisfied <3